I've always been interested in teaching. I remember in secondary school, I thought of being a maths teacher. I like the idea of passing on your knowledge, watching that person/ people grow from the fruits of your labour. It must be exciting! Well for the past 4 weeks I have been a teacher!
Okay not in the normal sense of the word. I'm not going to a school and teaching kiddie-winkles how to do maths (they'd probably end up teaching me)! Instead, in partnership with the Soldiers' Arts Academy (SAA), and I'm teaching magic to veterans and anyone else who is keen to try.
The Soldiers’ Arts Academy is a non for profit organisation which gives serving and former military personnel a route into the arts. They do everything, from singing, dancing, acting, poetry, art, guitar! The list goes on!
How did I end up here??
‘Education is not the filling of a pot but the lighting of a fire.’
- W. B Yeats
Well a good friend of mine Tom Leigh is an actor/ thespian! He's worked with the SAA on several projects and last year became more closely involved when their workshop's had to be taught remotely. Tom is now the head of programmes for SAA and oversees all workshops personally.
One night when we were on our 4th loss in a row on league of legends, I asked how they were going and "is there a magic workshop that you run?" "No" replied Tom.
Huh... Hey Tom!
So after a virtual show with the SAA, I began my new part time career teaching magic. We're on week 4 of 7. Here's what I've learnt so far:
Structure What You're Going to Teach
With magic (and other hobbies) being so vast and tons of places to start, structuring the lessons and curriculum was more helpful for me than the student I imagine. Structuring it made me think about my journey and helped me think about a natural progression from beginner onwards.
Since we're doing this over the medium of le internet and zoom, we can record the lessons. This is a great tool, in general but also for anything mechanical. The students I have, have mentioned that this was incredibly helpful for them to re-watch and study the hand/ finger placements.
Keep Note of Student Progression
This may sound obvious but it didn't occur to me straight away. Each student is going to be different. Different levels, different problems, different questions. I'm fortunate to currently have a small pool of students but have notes on what each one has asked, struggled with and their progression. It's helped me target areas that they make be specifically struggling with.
It's hard to forget sometimes that something that you may find easy, others will find it difficult. If you've done something for years, it can become a second nature, for example, shuffling cards. For beginners though, this is a completely new skill and will be difficult for them at first. Be Patient with people and work with them, they'll get there.
Thoughts So Far?
‘When one teaches, two learn.’
– Robert Heinlein
I love it! It's completely different to anything I've done. It's given me a new perspective on how to view magic and helped with my own magic, as you sometimes forget the basic and can pick up bad habits.
Not only that, it's shown me that skills like magic, like art, like guitar take time to progress and get better. If anyone has any more tips that can help with teaching please let me know!
If you'd like to attend a class - from magic to singing - you can sign up at https://www.soldiersartsacademy.org/